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No Public Footpath Over Locked Five Bar Gate or Through Hole in a Fence on QPR’s Proposed New Training Ground

Douglas Edwards QC
Philip Petchey

After an inquiry, an Inspector has dismissed an appeal against a decision of the London Borough of Ealing not to make two footpath modification orders (Appeals ref FPS/A5270/14A/1 and FPS/A5270/14A/2) on land which is proposed to become a new training ground for Queen’s park Rangers Football Club, as well as a community sports facility.

The claim in respect of footpath 1 involved climbing over a locked five bar gate. The Appellant claimed that this was done to facilitate public access in circumstances where the gate replaced a gate that was too high to be climbed over. The Inspector held that, whatever the circumstances, no reasonable person would conclude that by placing a locked gate across a route the landowner was displaying an intention to dedicate it as a public right of way, unless there was also a sign or some other indication that they were invited to climb the gate, which there was not.

The claim in respect of footpath 2 involved access through a hole in a wire mesh fence, which allegedly had not been repaired since 1993. The Inspector held that it would still have been clear to users that the hole had been forcibly made and that the landowner had not intended to provide public access at that point unless there had been some sign or other indication of an intention to dedicate a public right of way, which there was not.

The claimed footpaths also crossed land used for football pitches. The Inspector held that the marking out of the pitches indicated a lack of intention on the part of the landowner to dedicate public rights of way.

Douglas Edwards QC acted for the London Borough of Ealing as surveying authority and Philip Petchey for the London Borough of Ealing as landowner, both of whom successfully objected to the appeal.